Ammianus assessed Gratianus’ swift and successful war against Alamanni Lentienses as a remarkable and very useful achievement that came at the right time (Amm. 31. 10. 18). Some scholars believe, however, that it was both an unnecessary delay in helping the Eastern army to face Gothic hordes and a main factor to his uncle Valens’ defeat near Adrianople; such an assumption is still echoed by today’s scholarship. I will try to rebut this view and to defend Ammianus’ judgement in two ways. The former, by suggesting a ground-breaking interpretation of the Ammianean narrative (namely Amm. 31. 10. 1–17), which tells us about the lightning campaign of Gratianus much more than any other source; the latter, by reconstructing the actual crisis the Western Empire had to undergo in 378–379 AD. I also put forward a conjecture of my own on the brief lacuna of Amm. 31. 10. 4.
If one needs to obtain some information on the Roman conquest of Pannonia, his job seems to be easy: he has just to read both the ancient sources and many a modern work about this issue. But there are three problems: 1) the Greek and Latin sources are scanty, very poor in details and sometimes misleading; 2) the modern scholars often echo and deepen the errors of the ancient sources while adding other mistakes of their own; 3) mainstream opinions as well as minority views about Pannonian ethnography are premised on false or faulty assumptions and distort further our understanding of the historical events. This paper wants to correct both ancient errors and modern ones. Its author tried to reconstruct a coherent and clear picture of bellum Pannonicum in 12-9 BC; he also aimed at throwing new light on the ethnic composition of the Pannonian tribes.
The present state of the art on legionary centurions owes its core to the works of Brian Dobson. This paper will show how and why his results need a close scrutiny in order to correct factual errors and faulty assumptions about the centurions and their careers.